Workshop Archive

Interactive Political Film Workshop

27 | 28 | 29 | 30 November & 1 | 2 December 2005

27 nov 2005
2 dec 2005

Make your own interactive political film in a 6-day workshop at the International Documentary Film Festival Amsterdam!
Do you want to represent a complex issue in your film, but feel that the linear form forces you to favor one standpoint at the expense of others? Or do you want your film to talk to its audience and convince it?


propaganda -

After an opening symposium where four international speakers disentangle the media mechanisms and rhetorics that are at work around terrorism, you will develop a prototype for an interactive political film in 5 intensive workshop days.


In cooperation with the IDFA, Mediamatic organizes a workshop about interactive political film. This workshop is one of the IDFA programmes that have propaganda as their theme.

The workshop focuses on the possibilities of (online) interactive film to deliver political messages, to make cinematic issue spaces, and to generate dialogue between the film and its player. Interactive film offers powerful means to discuss and influence political attitudes and convictions. It also has great potential to represent complex issues in clear multilinear forms.

Participants use the ever-evolving Korsakow software to build their new media projects. Developed by Florian Thalhofer and Mediamatic, Korsakow is a powerful, elegant, and easy to learn editing tool. With this tool, you'll create a prototype of your interactive political film.

Around the workshop Mediamatic organizes two evening programmes. The first one (November 27th) serves as opening symposium and focuses on the media mechanisms that operate around terrorism, and investigates alternatives. The second evening programme (November 30th) looks into the state of affairs in documentary and political games.


After the opening symposium you'll develop your own interactive film with professional technical assistance. Lectures and presentations during the workshop will all focus on different rhetorical possibilities of interactive film and the Korsakow System. At the 30th of November there is an evening programme on political and documentary games.

You will work with your own film material (40 minutes max), but you can also shoot new material to a limited extent. To build a working prototype, you will use the Korsakow System. The Korsakow System is a simple and powerful database driven authoring environment for interactive storytelling with streaming media. All participants are assisted personally in realizing their workshop projects. No specific technical knowledge is required to be able to use the software.

Public sessions

At November 29th and December 1st there are public discussion sessions on rhetorical and cinematic aspects of interactive film in the workshop space at 16.00 hrs.

At November 30th there is a debate evening about political and documentary games in the main hall of De Balie at 20.00 hrs.

A selection of workshop results will be presented in a final presentation on December 2nd at 17.00 hrs at the Dutch Academy for Film and Television (Markenplein 1).

Target group

The workshop is designed for 16 makers, producers, editors and educators of film, radio, television and video.

Date and place

The workshop will take place during the International Documentary Film festival Amsterdam between November 27th and December 2nd 2005.

Location of the workshop is:
PostCS, 5th floor
Oosterdokskade 5

The evening programmes of November 27th and 30th take place at the main hall of De Balie. The address is:
De Balie
Kleine Gartmanplantsoen 10

Reading material for this workshop

To prepare for this workshop:
Reader for Mediamatic Interactive Film Lab
IDFA reader

Workshop Report

by Katharina Adler and Juliane Henrich

"Interactive Political Film“ was the motto of this year’s Korsakow-System Workshop offered by Mediamatic at the IDFA 2005. The first participants and workshop trainers came together on Sunday night at De Balie’s, where IDFA hosted Mediamatics lecture programme titled "the T-word“. Film makers, journalists and artists discussed their responsabilities and showcased their approaches towards terrorism as a media phenomenon.

After this first approximation the workshop itself started on Monday morning at Oosterdokstade in city center. Up on the fifth floor, overviewing a great part of the habour and the futuristic looking NEMO Museum, 15 Apple Powerbooks set up by the Mediamatic Foundation, who hosted and organized the workshop. Florian Thalhofer, the "inventor“ of the Korsakow System and his "crew“ consisting of media art and creative writing students from Berlin and Leipzig gathered to support participants from five different countries ( Holland, Ireland, Italy, Slovenia and the United States) with heteregenous professional backgrounds – documentary filmmakers, students, media artists and even a former lawyer were among them. After a short introduction a number of nonlinear narratives assembled with the Korsakow System were screened. Some of them could be described as chaptered documentaries (like Florian Thalhofer’s 13er Stock), others aimed to interact with the viewer by posing questions (such as Attitude by Jakob Schillinger who was also one of the trainers). All projects have the screen interface in common where one movie is playing at the top while three or more links appear at the bottom. The viewer can decide where he goes from there. Thus he can take active part in the narrative (or at least he thinks he can). The goal of this workshop was to investigate the rhetorical possibilities of interactive film, using the Korsakow System to construct a dialogue with the player.

Furthermore the general purpose of non-linear narration was discussed (Why should a project be non-linear?You might as well ask why a project should be linear.) or whether Korsakow could be considered a rather "female“ way of story telling.
After the participants had been intoduced to the Korsakow-Tool, that makes it possible to lay out complex structures by an easy-to-handle keyword system, they discussed in small groups with the trainers and assistants what they wanted to get out of Korsakow. The political element in the participants projects was highly diverse. Franca Formenti brought footage from performances on radical gender politics, Otto Schuurmans brought digitised 16 mm material on the the riots and other actions that accompanied the development of Amsterdams City Hall, Neil McCann brought material on nuclear energy issues from his days as Greenpeace media activist.

On the second workshop day, most people had outlined an idea of what their project would be like. One on one the participants were assisted in structuring the material conceptually and started arranging it in Quick Time, Photo Shop and Final Cut Pro. Aside technical issues, the discussion about the nature of interactive narration didn’t cease troughout the week. The lectures given by Jakob Schillinger (from the University of the Arts in Berlin), Klaas Kuitenbrouwer from Mediamatic and Michael Lew, professor interactive Film teaching at the University of Southern California, pointed out different points of view on non linear and interactive story telling. According to Jakob, Korsakow can be a tool for "belief management“, by seemingly creating a situation of participation or debate. Klaas pointed at the way in which systems like Korsakow involve the active imagination of the player in such a way that he manifests his own interpretation of the film inside the project when playing it. (It’s not the thing that tells the truth, it’s us who read it).

What media or which ways of presentation influence you in what way? This question was raised again on Wednesday night at De Balie’s where another lecture and presentation programme was running on documentary video games. The programme convinced most of the audience of the notion that documentary games may provide access to situations in ways that film never can.
On Friday afternoon the workshop results were screened at the Film Academy on Markenplein. Six projects that offered very different approaches had been chosen for the presentation. Phred Lender showed his collage of news broadcasted during the hurricanes Katrina and Rita in the US, exposing the huge gaps between the reality on the ground and the way different levels of government tried to manage the perception of the situation in the media.
Peter Schmitz disguised his film on a very succesful ethnic housing project as a citizen survey on where one is forced to form an opinion by the mode the questions to the viewer are stated. Two other projects aimed more for visual rhetorics, showing events from different angles at once.

Not all participants tried to convince the players of their projects of a specific point of view, but in exploring the inner workings of interactive film the participants discovered and used strong visual and rhetorical means to construct political issue spaces that can be browsed by the user.